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Transcript of Reading History
by Dillon Hershey
(Scene #1) On a summer afternoon in my house, it is usually quiet. My mom and dad both work in the afternoons; my dad downstairs in the basement and my mom at her work.
My sister is usually upstairs in her bed, reading and I am usually upstairs in my chair reading. If we could, we would read the whole day with nobody to bother us.
Me and my sister read so much that we used to take suitcases to the library and we would have to use two different library cards because there was a 40 book limit on one card.
My mom enjoys getting books from the library and one of them was And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini; author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.
This is a book that has many characters who all tell different stories that are connected at the end of the book to a main story, that is told in the beginning. My mom knew that I enjoy books like this one so my mom told me to read it after she was finished reading it.
My parents, read a lot as well, but it’s when they have time, like before they go to bed. My mom enjoys novels and my dad mainly likes sports books but on special occasions, some novels.
This beginning of the book takes place in a little town outside of Kabul, Afghanistan. The author uses arabic words throughout the first chapter to let the reader know where the story takes place without using any describing words.
“Once upon a time when ‘divs’ and ‘jinns’ and giants roamed the land, there lived a farmer name Baba Ayub.” (page 1)
Divs and jinns are in another language (possibly Arabic) and there is no glossary to tell the reader what the words mean. The father is telling a story to his children about giants and divs and jinns, which are grouped together so I assume that they are a both types of mythical creatures. I looked it up but I couldn’t find anything because this would be the transliteration (how it sounds in English letters) and not many dictionaries go by transliterations. I overcame this language barrier by using context clues and how the words are used in the sentence.
The main plot of the story is how a brother and sister are separated because the dad can't afford to feed her anymore. The sister, who is four, is sent to live with a rich family in Kabul and the brother feels lonely without her. All of the rest of the stories somehow connect to the brother, Abdullah or the sister, Pari.
The author starts chapters this way to help the reader understand what time period the story is being told in because the book is not in chronological order.
The story has too many similar names and settings that if the reader does not look at the chapter title and date, they will most likely be confused. This also shows how many different stories there are in the book.
(Reflection #1) While reading this book, I found that I really enjoyed looking for the symbols the author included in the book, making the stories connect even more. I think that when choosing a favorite book, I look back on what I discovered while reading it and how many connections I made as a reader. This book has lots of stories that depend on the symbols included in the stories to make the other stories connect.
“One early morning, when the girls were seventeen, they sat on a branch high up the oak tree, their feet dangling.” (page 37)
This is told in the character of Parwana who lived in the same village of Abdullah’s father (who is telling the story in the first annotation). The oak tree is in the village and it is something that has been there for ages. Almost all of the people who are telling a story in this book, mention the oak tree and how large and grand it was. The author probably put the oak tree in the story so many times so that the reader would understand that it is a symbol of the theme of the book.
“‘Let’s just go back,’ Parwana says, her throat beginning to close. ‘I can’t do this. I can’t let you go.’ ‘You’re not.’ Masooma is crying now. ‘I’m letting you go. I am releasing you.’” (page 37)
Masooma is crippled and Parwana has to take care of her. Masooma realizes that Parwana won’t be able to marry with a crippled sister to take care of, so she is leaving herself in the desert so that Parwana can have a life of her own. This seems like a very big sacrifice to make and this also seems like a theme that runs throughout the book; making sacrifices for other people and to benefit yourself. Abdullah’s dad, already made a sacrifice of giving Pari away to a rich lady in Kabul and he sacrificed the memories of the oak tree by cutting it down for firewood for the village during a cold winter. The other sacrifices aren’t going to be as devastating for the reader as these were, but there are sacrifices made in every story for a better life.
One of the more prominent themes in the book is sacrifice. The father sacrifices the daughter for money and less mouths to feed. He also sacrifices the big tree (mentioned in annotation #3) for more wood for the village. Most of the stories told in the book have a sacrifice that happens to benefit them but it is hard to make.
“She and Abdullah had married in Pakistan in the late 1970s, they have told Idris, after the communist takeover back home. They were granted asylum in the U.S. in 1982, the year their daughter, Pari, was born.” (pg 161)
This is one of the first times that the stories become more intertwined. The man mentioned in the quote, was also the boy in the beginning of the story (annotation#1). When first reading this paragraph, I was confused because Pari was the name of the sister that was given away in the first chapter of the book. I didn’t realize that Abdullah was the brother and he named his daughter after his sister. This connection came out of nowhere in the story and it connected the story of Idris even more to the ‘main’ story of Pari and Abdullah. The connections like these make the book even more fun to read because you don't really know when the next connection is going to happen.
Later on in the book, and when time has passed into the 21st century, the stories start to connect for the reader and characters start to reappear in the stories.
(Scene #2) When I was in about 7th grade, I visited my grandparents over the summer and I forgot to bring another book along. I finished my book in the car and I was staying with them for about a week. I asked my grandma if she had any other chapter books that she thought I would enjoy. She had a stack of small chapter books by the stand near her chair and I picked one of those up. It was a book about Helen Keller. I was interested, and I didn’t have anything else to read so I started to read it. About a day after I had begun and I wasn’t finished, I was confused because with a book that size, I could have finished it in a day, no doubt. I had picked it up and started to read but I realized that I didn’t want to read it. It had become a chore to me, to read this book. I hated to abandon it but I had to or else I would in a grumpy mood all week.
With a book like And the Mountains Echoed, I didn't want to abandon it because it kept me hooked with the inevitable. I wanted to know if the brother and sister would find each other again and I wanted to know more about how they would grow up with their differences.
“In 1985, when Isabelle is seven, Alain four and little Theirry two, Pari accepts an offer to teach at a prominent university in Paris. She becomes subject, for a time, to the expected academic jostling and pettiness-not surprising, given that, at thirty-six, she is the youngest professor in the department and one of only two women.” (pg 227)
This chapter is told as the character of Pari, the sister of Abdullah. She was given away when she was four years old and she doesn’t remember anything of her past life in Pakistan. Her adoptive father died when she was five and so she and her adoptive mother moved to Paris, where she learned French and lived the rest of her life. She got married and had kids and went to university. If she wasn’t given away for adoption, she wouldn’t have had the chance of becoming a young professor at a university or of learning French. In every way possible, her adoption was the best thing that happened to her because she gained so many opportunites.
This quote is from a chapter of a son of a wealthy ruler of a new town, built where the old village where the beginning of the story takes place. The tree that is mentioned in the quote has also been mentioned in almost every other story told in the book and in a previous annotation (#3). The boy’s father says that whoever cut down the tree is a fool because it is an ancient piece of history. The fool was Abdullah’s father. He cut it down because the village needed firewood for the cold winter. I think that the author put this story into the book because it shows what happens to the old village and it also shows the large wealth gap between the two different types people who have lived on that land. I think the author also put that in the story to bring back the theme of sacrifice and to show that not everyone will understand why the sacrifice needed to be made.
(Scene #3) One winter afternoon, my friend Laura and I were walking back from school to my house for a playdate. Our parents had worked out this deal where one week after school, we would go to my house and the next week we would go to her house. On this particular day, we were both really into this book series about wild horses. Laura got me into the book series and I got hooked right away.
(Annotation #8) “‘I still had the luxury of forgetting. He did not.’ She lifts a feather, brushes it against her wrist, eyeing it as though hoping it might spring to life and take flight. ‘I don’t know what this feather means, the story of it, but I know it means he was thinking of me. For all these years. He remembered me.’” (pg 401)
Pari, the sister, is speaking about a tin of feathers that Abdullah has kept since Pari was given away. She doesn’t remember her obsession with feathers, like it was recounted in the beginning of the book, but she knows that since Abdullah has this tin of feathers, he never gave up on her, throughout all the years. When Abdullah and Pari finally meet again, Abdullah has memory issues so he can’t remember Pari at all. My mom thought that it was a bad ending, or a sad one but I find it almost like a circle. Pari can't remember Abdullah in the beginning of the book because she is too little and in the end Abdullah can't remember Pari because he's too old. I think that the author made the decision to have Abdullah forget Pari because he knows that if he made it where Abdullah remembers Pari, people might think it was too happy of an ending and that it was unrealistic.
(Reflection #3) With this book, I also got a cozy feeling while reading it, which is something that I found that I get when I usually am really into a book. When I stop reading a book after I get that feeling, it usually feels like I'm in a trance and that I was actually in the book. This is something else that helps me determine if I enjoyed the book. If I can read anywhere and block out the other noises just by reading, it usually means that its a very good book.
In the end of the book, everything falls into place and a happy ending is sort of made. Pari and Abdullah find each other but not everything is perfect.
(Reflection #4) Something that I learned about myself while doing this project and analyzing my reading was that I look to how I react to the book to determine if I like it or not. I also love books that have connections to other stories that the reader has to figure out to make sense of the overall story.
My dad often reads the newspaper in the morning. When I was younger, I used to mock him reading the newspaper.
We talked the whole way home about the series and once we got to my house, we didn’t really want to play in my basement like we usually did. We decided that we both wanted to finish the books we were reading about the wild horses and so we climbed into my bed and under the covers to keep warm.
While I was reading I got a cozy feeling like I could read forever and that everything would be alright. All my worries went away and I didn't hear all the noise my sister was making. I was in the zone and nothing could interupt me, until Laura's parents came to pick her up.
(Reflection #2) I like to think that my parents opened up lots of oppurtunites for me by introducing reading into my life at an early age. My favorite book when I was younger was The Foot Book by Dr. Suess. I wouldn't go to sleep until someone read it to me. At 10 months I was even "reading" along to some parts with my parents.
I think that if my parents didn't read to me when I was younger, I wouldn't be as comfortable with reading books as I am now. I don't think that I would love reading as much as I do and I think that books wouldn't be fun to read without an introduction to books as a baby.
by dillon hershey